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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s loss of one of its 12 judicial seats will be the 9th Circuit’s gain. The U.S. Senate approved a deal April 18 to add a judge to the 9th Circuit who will be appointed from Arizona, bringing to 29 the number of active appellate judges on the circuit. The D.C. Circuit has seen two of its 12 allotted seats go begging for years. During the Clinton administration Senate Republicans blocked the nominations of Allen Snyder and Elena Kagan, now dean of Harvard Law School, on the grounds that the circuit lacked the caseload to justify 12 seats. The provision, approved 97-0, in the Court Security Improvement Act, S.378, was brokered by Senator John Kyl, R-Ariz., and Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Kyl was one of the senators who has opposed filling the seat in the past, indicating he would not vote to fill either of the two vacancies unless the court had a significant increase in cases. The 12th seat on the D.C. Circuit was authorized in 1984 but has remained vacant for the last 10 years. The 9th Circuit, the largest in the nation, has more pending cases per judge than any in the country, 33% higher than the national average, according to Feinstein. Many of those appeals are immigration-related and come from Arizona.

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